To Treat Or Not To Treat?

April 28th, 2015

That is the question which our family, as new dog owners, must contemplate.  Newfoundland dogs love to be praised from what we have been told and Bailey is no exception.  She loves to hear our positive words even if we feel like her own personal cheerleading squad doing it.  The neighbours must smile when they hear our praise of Bailey doing her business or walking down the street without pulling whoever is on the end of the leash along with her.  Sometimes this praise leads to unexpected accidents such as “the meet and greet” morning sessions with each family member as they exit their bedrooms.  Of course, they are excited and happy to see her which is expressed in their voices.  When she sits with her tongue waving frantically, Bailey is congratulated for being well-mannered – i.e. not jumping up.  The key is to express this delight with as little enthusiasm as possible or a puddle will result.  After 4 weeks of mom’s reminders to greet her on the ceramic flooring, the family is doing well with their training as is Bailey.

However, treats can speed up the learning process as we have discovered.  Bailey loves bananas, apples, pears, frozen peas and cheese.  The list is growing (as is Bailey) so we do not need to worry about running out of treat options anytime soon.  For a sliver of banana, Bailey will sit, stay, come, sit and gobble it after being given the okay.  I just wish a banana slice would have the same effect on my sons to complete chores quickly.  Well, a mother can dream.  Anyway, we could see the light bulb going on for Bailey when I used this treat to get the desired response for the first time.  Since that time, Bailey is all business upon seeing the banana being brought out.  She does not ignore or casually get around to following commands now.  After a couple of good runs, I will use praise instead of the treat and it works well.  But, I wonder if she feels cheated….  I know my boys would.

We learned that treats are okay in moderation.  Too much of a good thing can lead to a pup with no appetite for her real food.  Reminds me of the time when certain family members ate dessert before dinner and then had no room left for the main course.  Bailey is thriving with treats and praise which is the important thing.  For the family, the best treat of all is sharing our lives with such a joyful being.

P.S.  At 13 weeks, Bailey is now 14.8 kg or 32 pounds 10 ounces.

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